Tag: easter

Easter Sunday 2019

“…Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Luke 24:5-7

This week we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus together at our Easter services! It was the sweetest morning as we worshipped and stood in the victory and life we are given because of Jesus. Lead pastor Carl Gulley shared a message centered around the story of Jonah. Though it seems like a non-traditional Easter message, the story of Jonah prophetically points to Jesus.

THE RESURRECTION OF JONAH POINTS TO THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS, AND ULTIMATELY REVEALS THE PROMISE OF OUR RESURRECTION.

We spent most of our morning in Jonah 1-3. The Lord asks Jonah to go to Nineveh, a place that is full of destruction and wickedness. To Jonah, this request makes no sense. Still today, God will unapologetically ask us to do things that don’t make sense in the beginning but will ultimately lead to life.

Jonah disobeys, runs in the opposite direction and finds himself in the belly of a whale for three days. It would be fair to say that Jonah got what he deserved, and his story could have ended inside the whale. In his desperation, Jonah cries out to God and the Lord delivers him.

Our story probably looks a lot like Jonah’s. We can find ourselves feeling hopeless, stuck and in need of a Savior.

JESUS IS THAT SAVIOR.

“because just as Jonah was in the stomach of the sea creature for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights… But look – something greater than Jonah is here.” Matthew 12:40 – 41

Jesus willingly went to the cross and died for our sins. But the story didn’t end there. He not only took on all of our mess, but He overcame by rising from the dead after three days. We are now invited to stand in victory with Jesus, fully forgiven and made clean.

FORGIVENESS CHANGES THE GAME FOR EVERYONE.

This is the reason we celebrate! We celebrate our risen Savior who gives us hope and brings us from death to life.

John, His Story – A Recap

This past weekend was our Palm Sunday production, John, His Story. This production creatively tells the story of Jesus as written in the Gospel of John. Four actors came together to portray 27 different characters, and brought the Gospel to life. We are so thankful for our team who worked on this production, and for the opportunity to share the love of Jesus in such a creative way!

CHECK OUT SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PRODUCTION:

A special thank you to Fadi Salem for taking photos and helping us capture the event.

Living Out the Easter Message

This past Sunday we celebrated Easter: a time of remembering all Jesus did for us and celebrating the freedom we find in Him. In all of our kids’ services we shared the story of the Gospel. We talked about how God created us to be in relationship with Him but our sins separated us from that perfect relationship, so we needed a savior, and that savior is Jesus. At the end of our services we gave kids an invitation to receive Christ, and more than two dozen kids did. Praise God!

THE QUESTION MANY OF US ASK IS, “NOW WHAT?”

As a parent or a friend of one of these kids, or even as an adult coming out of Easter, you can become excited and thankful for all Jesus has done, yet so unsure of what to do at the same time.

EVERY TIME WE WONDER WHAT TO DO NEXT WE SIMPLY GET TO GO TO THE BIBLE AND SEE WHAT JESUS SAID.

We get to look to the Word of God to find out how to live! After Jesus resurrected, defeating our sins once and for always, He spent some time on earth and then ascended to heaven, but He didn’t leave us without instructions. At the end of His time on earth Jesus told the disciples to pray and wait for the coming of the Helper He would send for us. In Acts 1 and 2 the early believers gave us an example for how to live once we’ve come to know Jesus. They were gathered together praying and the Holy Spirit came. The Bible says they were filled with boldness and went out to proclaim the Gospel.

THE FIRST THING WE GET TO DO ONCE WE HAVE ACCEPTED JESUS IS TALK WITH HIM, PRAY TO HIM AND SHARE HIS LOVE WITH OTHERS.

In His time on earth, Jesus also modeled how to have a relationship with God. Time after time Jesus removed Himself from the crowds and simply got time alone with God. Because of this model Jesus set for us, I want to give every child and adult, especially those who gave their lives to Jesus last Sunday, a challenge. I’m calling it the 5-5-5 Challenge!

IN RESPONSE

The 5 – 5 – 5 Challenge
  • 5 minutes of Worship
  • 5 minutes in the Word
  • 5 minutes of Prayer

The 5-5-5 Challenge is a challenge to spend five minutes of your day worshipping God. This can be through a worship song, through telling God what you’re thankful for or by drawing a picture of how awesome you think God is. Spend five minutes of your day reading the Bible or read a Bible story to your kids. And spend five minutes praying. You can pray for your family, for your friends, for people who don’t know Jesus or anything else on your heart. Jesus loves when you talk to Him.

My prayer is that as you take on the 5-5-5 Challenge, you’ll fall more in love with the God you gave your life to, whether you gave it to Him last week or last decade!

By Andrew Wible – Elementary Pastor

7 Days of Extravagant Worship: Holy Saturday

At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.‭‭ – John‬ ‭19:38-42‬ ‭NIV‬‬

True worship doesn’t put on a show or make a fuss; true worship isn’t forced, isn’t half-hearted, doesn’t keep looking at its watch, doesn’t worry what the person in the next pew is doing. True worship is open to God, adoring God, waiting for God, trusting God even in the dark.  – N. T. Wright

It was a day of rest, the Sabbath. And Jesus’ body was laid to rest in a borrowed grave. But His disciples were anything but restful. Their hearts were broken, their hope was demolished and their fears were coming true. Because their Master was gone, and with Him their memory of His promise for what lay on the other side.

OF COURSE, HIS PROMISE WAS ALIVE AND WELL… BUT HIS BODY WAS DEAD.

Under the surface of all they could see, much was happening. Eternity was stirring. The devil was screaming, hell was being harrowed and Jesus was winning. But they could not see this. All they could see was defeat, and all they could feel was loss. But Peter’s life-altering words still rang true: where else could they go? Jesus had the words of eternal life. And since they couldn’t hear His voice, they had nowhere else to go. So they waited.

Maybe this is a place you’ve been before. Maybe you’re there now. Waiting. Waiting for a promise to come true. Even if you are not there now, you will be there someday. We all travel this road at some point, for the road to resurrection always passes through the valley of death. So if you’re going to have to wait, then wait well.

WORSHIP IN THE WAITING.

It is through worship that our eyes are opened. In the waiting, our vision can be hijacked, making us miss the forest for the trees. God’s promises are eternal – so we must worship to see past this temporal state into the eternal reality.

Extravagant worship is the only kind of worship taking place in heaven; there is no half-hearted or distracted worship around God’s throne. When we actively place our focus on Jesus and declare the truth of who He is, we join the hosts of heaven – the ones who see Him more clearly than we can here on earth – in allowing Him to take His rightful place in our hearts: in the center, on the throne. When Jesus is given His exalted place in the center, everything else takes its humble place around Him: our joys and heartbreaks, our temptations and aspirations, our relationships and even our enemy, the devil.

You are everything You’ve promised
Your faithfulness is true
We’re desperate for Your presence
All we need is You
 
Waiting here for You
With our hands lifted high in praise
And it’s You we adore
Singing alleluia
 – Waiting Here For You, Tomlin/Reeves/Smith

IN RESPONSE

Waiting for God with our hands lifted in praise – this is waiting well. And it is all over the Bible. The Hebrew word YADAH means “hands to God,” and “to throw the hands” as a response to God’s faithfulness. We often find David lifting his hands to the faithfulness of God while waiting for Him in the darkest places in life.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise [YADAH] Him, my Savior and my God.
– Psalm 42:11

Today, be more than a casual bystander. Lift your hands and your heart to heaven and use many words of adoration. Tell Him that You love Him over and over again. Thank Him for His faithfulness to you. Here’s an extravagant idea: play a worship song that stirs your heart to God and keep your hands lifted in praise for the duration of the song.

At the moment, we live in the Kingdom of the now and the not yet. Let’s wait well. Let’s worship extravagantly in the waiting.

MUSIC AND VIDEO:

Check out all of the extravagant worship devotionals here.

By James Mark Gulley, Worship Pastor

7 Days of Extravagant Worship: Good Friday

They will look upon the One they have pierced.  – John 19:37

We cannot encounter Jesus without encountering the cross. – J. Heinrich Arnold

Read or listen to Mark 15:1-39.

There are many words used to describe Jesus’ life and ministry in the Word of God. But at the critical moment of it all – at the moment that Jesus’ execution begins, the Bible becomes startlingly succinct. There is no description of the physical suffering He endured at the cross, no graphic detail of the torture. Like an oblivious coroner, at the climax of the greatest act of all of history, the Bible simply states,

It was nine in the morning when they crucified Him.
– Mark 15:25

But it makes sense. When we take the time to gaze at Jesus hanging on the cross, we don’t need words. You may find that being quiet is your best form of worship today. If so, know that you are accepted in your silence and your focused pondering of His sacrifice is a pleasing form of worship to God.

WE DON’T HAVE TO SAY A WORD; THE CROSS SAYS IT ALL.

You may also want to hear the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, as in the links below. Maybe you’ll want to read the story in each of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I encourage you to linger at the cross – don’t move on too quickly from the discomfort of observing Jesus’ death. Worship Him extravagantly by choosing to remain at the cross when others slip away.

HIS DEATH IS LIFE FOR YOU.

BARAK means “to kneel.” The picture the Hebrew word depicts is of a person’s stature being broken, no longer standing straight up and down as if in a straight line, but broken in two. And so we are each at the foot of the cross: broken. Take some time to get on your knees in front of Jesus today. Picture His body on the cross, His eyes looking into Yours. Worship Him. Adore Him.

When I encounter Jesus on the cross, I often cry. The flood of emotions – grief, guilt, release, gratitude and a host of others – can be overwhelming. Know that Jesus is okay with that. Let it draw you to Him. Only know this: in your lamenting, refuse the temptation to spiral into self-focus. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He never takes His eyes off of you. Look upon our Savior. Worship Him. And be broken.

Grace what have You done
Murdered for me on that cross
Accused in absence of wrong
My sin washed away in Your blood
Too much to make sense of it all
I know that Your love breaks my fall
The scandal of grace
You died in my place
So my soul will live
– Joel Houston & Matt Crocker, Scandal of Grace

MUSIC AND OTHER RESOURCES:

STORY OF THE CRUCIFIXION:
  • VIDEO: St. John in Exile, a one-man play in which Dean Jones plays the aged, last living apostle telling his story that would become the Gospel of John. The story of Jesus going to the cross is remarkably impactful.
  • VIDEO: “Matthew 26:39-27:38”, a powerful spoken word piece by David Bowden

STUDY OF THE CRUCIFIXION: 

SONGS OF THE CRUCIFIXION: 

Find the rest of the extravagant worship devotionals here.

By James Mark Gulley, Worship Pastor

7 Days of Extravagant Worship: Holy Thursday

… do this in remembrance of Me. – Luke 22:19
It is in the process of being worshiped that God communicates His presence to men. – C.S. Lewis

Deception. Treachery. Betrayal. The process was in motion. Disillusioned and frustrated, Judas had already made his deal with the devil: he gives Jesus to the evil rulers, and they give him what amounts to about $600 today. It was all arranged in secret, but Jesus knew. He had always known. That doesn’t make it hurt any less. The dread is looming. The pain is inevitable. The cross is coming.

Still, it is time for the Passover meal, so the brothers gather together. And even here, with the temptation to be distracted by the coming threats, Jesus listens to the leadership of His Father, and so yet again He surprises His followers.

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. – ‭‭John‬ ‭13:1-5‬

Here at Antioch, we have an incredible, life-changing conference called World Mandate, often affectionately abbreviated to “Mandate” by our attendees. This mandate, this call comes from Jesus’ words in the Great Commission. But Jesus gave another mandate that changed history as well. And He didn’t give this charge as He was victoriously ascending into heaven. He gave it after having done the slave’s task of washing His disciples’ feet:

“LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.”

Because of these paradigm-shifting words after an unparalleled act of servant leadership, through the centuries, Holy Thursday has been called Mandate Thursday, more commonly known as Maundy Thursday.

This is the Jesus we worship with our hearts, our songs and our very lives. The King who kneels down to serve us, and while our eyes are still wide with wonder at this exchange, He calls us to do the same for other people.

HE ALWAYS MAKES A WAY FOR US TO DRAW NEAR TO HIM WITH HIS LOVE, AND THEN CALLS US TO JOIN HIM ON HIS MISSION TO CHANGE THE WORLD WITH THE SAME LOVE.

Every other religion in the world is basically a code of ethics, a list of rules to keep. This is why so much worship in the world is done from an emotional distance; it is people merely fulfilling the basic level of commitment to their particular “supreme being.” Every other religion is a list of rights and wrongs to abide by in order to earn our way to God. But Jesus is the real God, the only God who knew we could never earn our way to Him – so He came to us.

His loving pursuit of our hearts has always been relentless and extravagant.

HE DID WHATEVER IT TOOK TO WIN US BACK TO GOD.

He “wasted” His love and blood on us. So extravagant worship – worship that costs us something: our focus, our energy, our thoughts, our affections – is an appropriate response to the extravagant love of God.

Thankfulness is a sacrifice; it costs us something. When we overcome our laziness and unbelief to thank God out loud, it pleases His heart. Praise is often a sacrifice because it is a choice to remember.

  • Remember how much God has done for you
  • Remember how He’s never left you alone
  • Remember that every perfect gift comes from your Father
  • Remember that He promises that your future is in His hands

Remember. And today we commemorate one occasion when Jesus personally requested for us to remember Him. He sat in a room with His disciples and told them… to remember.

And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” – Luke 22:19-20

The faithful sacrament of Communion, or the Eucharist, is worship in itself. Let us never forget it. Let’s be the ones who fulfill Jesus’ request: remember. I love it that directly after the first Communion it was first nature for Jesus and His disciples to sing to God. They took time to worship God together.

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. – ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭26:30‬

IN RESPONSE

The Hebrew word “ZAMAR” carries with it a meaning with which we are very familiar. Zamar means to play musical instruments in order to sing songs and make music that bring praise to God. It’s what we do these days – play guitar and sing. Today, play an instrument if you have one. Let every note and every beat bring to mind how Jesus has served you. Even if you don’t play an instrument, by all means – sing! Click the songs below and sing! And as you sing, remember Jesus.

MUSIC AND VIDEO:

You can find the other devotionals for this week here.

By James Mark Gulley, Worship Pastor

7 Days of Extravagant Worship: Holy Wednesday

They asked, “Why this waste?”
Jesus said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me.”  – Matthew 26:8, 10
Because worship is a conversation, and not a mere review of the past, it is dynamic, unpredictable, and open-ended.  – Gary Furr & Milburn Price

Imagine the scene: she is standing there in a room full of people and not one of them seems to get it. Her heart is pounding with fear and grief. Jesus sits there laughing and listening to His disciples over dinner. And the others just laugh along with Him like nothing is wrong, not a care in the world. He has said it numerous times – that terrible phrase – and everyone just responded with a quizzical look on their faces. But the last time He said it, it moved in on her heart like a perpetrator, and she has been able to think of nothing else. Did any of them hear what He said?! Doesn’t anyone understand?! Does anyone care?! It isn’t as if He’s prone to exaggeration, so it must be true. But if it is true, then everything is going to change, and she doesn’t know if she can bear it. She doesn’t even know if she can believe it. But that’s what He said.

HE IS GOING TO BE KILLED.

He has become her world, her purpose, her everything… and He is going to die.

This dinner has been given in His honor, and she wants to honor the One who has opened her eyes to see God and people and the whole world in a completely different light – the light of truth. So if He is going to die, then He should be anointed, prepared for burial. And it shouldn’t be a last minute errand; no mediocre ceremony will do. No, He should be anointed properly – like a king.

So she goes to get the alabaster jar she’s been saving for what seems like a lifetime. She brings it to the table. It seems all the voices of the small crowd have faded away. All she can see is His face. All she can hear is His voice. And she can’t imagine life without that face and that voice. Her heart is as heavy as lead as she kneels down. No one noticed her before, but the crack of the wax seal made all eyes shoot in her direction.

She knows this costly perfume is meant to be measured out drop by drop – but not today. Not for Jesus. She freely pours all the perfume over His feet. She hears the collective gasp in the room, but she is undeterred. It will take more than the disapproving glance of mere humans to stop her from lavishing her offering on Jesus. This perfume may be of more worth than anything else in her whole house, but nothing in this world is worth more to her than Him. As she pours, she mops up the excess with her hair.

The perfume runs out. Most of it went to His feet, but some just seeped into the floor. There’s a good amount in her hair now. The fragrance that fills the house is one she will not soon forget. She looks up and sees Jesus’ gentle, approving smile. Then comes their question, breaking through the silent sacredness of the moment and filled with accusation: “Why this waste?!”

Today is Holy Wednesday, and events are beginning to unfold. Maybe you are beginning to feel it inside: the cross is coming.

IT IS A TIME FOR EXTRAVAGANT WORSHIP. AND ONE DEFINITION OF THE WORD “EXTRAVAGANT” IS “WASTEFUL.”

I want to be like Mary. She listened to Jesus and she seemed more concerned with what was going on in His heart than others. It’s like she was less concerned about how His death would affect herself and others and more concerned for what He was personally going through. Her Savior, her Teacher, her Friend. She wanted to minister to His heart, to care for Him as He prepared for the fight of His life. She didn’t have much more than her faith in Him, but He had said that He was pleased by her faith and she wanted to give Him the honor of living as if that were true.

SO SHE BROUGHT WHAT SHE HAD.

It was vulnerable. It was open-hearted. It was over-the-top. And when others scoffed at her, Jesus stepped in and defended her. And then He told her it was His favorite gift. (Matthew 26:10-13)

THE FASCINATING THING ABOUT WORSHIPING JESUS EXTRAVAGANTLY IS THAT THE MORE YOU GIVE YOURSELF TO HIM, THE MORE HE BECOMES YOUR GREATEST DESIRE.

We have thanked Him with our mouths, we have celebrated Him with shouts of praise and with dancing wildly before Him – all to express to Him with our voices and bodies what our hearts desire. And we are ruined for the ordinary. We are no longer okay with lesser worship. We are unsatisfied with distant, unemotional worship because relationships are emotional and expressive – and Jesus wants relationship with us. That’s the very reason He was going to the cross!

IN RESPONSE

I am immensely grateful for the people who have written worship songs through the years because they have helped me connect with God. But there is often something richer about your personal song to Jesus. There is nothing like singing the song of your own heart to God.

SO ARE YOU WILLING TO WASTE YOUR WORSHIP, YOUR HEART ON JESUS?

Form and tradition have their place in the church, but we also need to cultivate in our worship the unpredictability and spontaneity of a real love relationship. The Hebrew word “TEHILLAH” is to “spontaneously express spiritual songs.” It is one way God has given us to approach Him. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise [TEHILLAH]…” meaning, come to worship God singing the song of your heart.

I have found that withholding extravagant worship breeds cynicism. When you worship Jesus, are you willing to be so vulnerable that you would begin singing the thoughts in your heart in that very moment, even if they are not yet polished and put together? Will you trust Him to receive your heart’s offering? As you do, maybe a theme will develop and your spirit will agree. If your prayer or song continues on that theme, your mind will engage and naturally begin to give shape to your expression. But remember, your heart should lead in your worship.

You will find that this place is fertile ground for songwriting, but the goal is not to write a song, it is to pour out your heart to Jesus. Let’s waste our worship on Jesus today. Sing your own song all day today. Start with the video below and go wherever He leads you!

MUSIC:

You can find the other devotionals for this week here.

By James Mark Gulley – Worship Pastor

7 Days of Extravagant Worship: Holy Tuesday

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.” – Psalm 69:30

“The discipline of thanksgiving involves a constant stream of decisions to recognize and respond to the many kindnesses that have been poured out on us.” – Matt Redman

After He cleansed the temple, the religious leaders went into a full assault on Jesus’ reputation, trying desperately to save face and to discredit His teachings before the crowds. But it was these very people Jesus wanted to defend against the dangerous dead religion of the Pharisees. God wasn’t impressed with their outward appearance. Jesus wanted the common people to know that God was looking for a heart of faith, a heart that receives salvation and says, “Thank You!” No matter how sinful your past or how dirty you feel today, Jesus says that if you open your heart to Him and put your faith in Him, You have a guaranteed front row seat to His favor! He said to the Pharisees:

Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. – ‭Matthew‬ ‭21:31-32‬ ‭NIV‬‬

GOD’S FAVORITE WORSHIPER IS THE ORDINARY PERSON WITH EXTRAORDINARY GRATITUDE.

He is most concerned that you are honest about your need for Him and that you are thankful for His life in you.Some say extravagant worship is all show and no substance, a futile attempt at trying to win God’s attention with a display of unnecessary exuberance. But this is actually getting things backwards. God is always after our hearts. The extravagant worshiper goes above and beyond reasonable limits in praising Jesus because she has received His free gift of love and kindness. It is the person who brings the basic level of offering who shows her true colors: a deep-down belief that God’s grace can be earned, that there is an amount of worship that can fulfill our requirement for that acceptance.

ARE YOU DOING MERELY WHAT IS REQUIRED IN YOUR WORSHIP SO THAT YOU CAN EARN YOUR RIGHT OF PASSAGE?

The truth is, there is no “bare minimum” that must be done in worship to please God. If there was a “least amount necessary,” then there would be a measurable amount – like paying off the minimum amount due on a credit card bill. But the higher truth is that there is no amount of spiritual posturing that can earn His favor – the debt has been paid! So we can stop worshiping as though we have something to prove. In worship, there is no basic level of commitment as though this is a club for which you can pay your dues. There is only an honest heart overflowing with gratitude.

To break beyond these human limits to worship “in spirit and truth” is simple: we must consider how meaningful is God’s love to our hearts and respond in proportion to that value. How important to you is God’s forgiveness of your sins and His relentless pursuit of your heart? How much do you value His sovereignty and strength over every dark power in the world? To that amount, open your mouth and thank Him.

IN RESPONSE

Take some time today to turn on some worship music and begin to thank Jesus for the way He so graciously saved you, for how miraculously He has healed you, for how completely He has forgiven You. Just start thanking Him and your reasons for your gratitude will come to the surface. Today’s Hebrew word for “praise” is the word “TOWDAH,” which means “to extend the hands; to thank; to confess.” The image that is drawn is of a person raising his hand in a court of law to pledge to tell the truth.

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving [TOWDAH]. – Psalm 69:30

Today, let’s lift our hands as we speak out our testimony that Jesus has saved us, and extravagantly thank God for His faithfulness to us.

MUSIC:

RESOURCES:

By James Mark Gulley, Worship Pastor

7 Days of Extravagant Worship: Holy Monday

I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this…
– 2 Samuel 6:21-22
“When we enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, we are in motion. We are going somewhere… This worship, or service, is corporate, intense, loud, boisterous, energetic, releasing. It is worthy of our great God.” – Don Williams
The crowds worshiped God extravagantly at Jesus’ triumphal entry – now it was Jesus’ turn. The palm leaves had not even been cleaned from the road yet when Jesus walked into His Father’s house to worship. It was Passover, one of the most important faith festivals of Jesus’ time with hundreds of thousands of Jewish pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem to worship God together. But Jesus found the leaders were not leading true worship. They had lost their passion for God’s presence and settled for worldly pleasures, and they were manipulating the people out of their money. Jesus had come to worship with everyone else according to the customary order, but His passion for God’s house overwhelmed Him and He responded with an outrageous display of righteous passion for God to be worshiped rightly. Jesus literally turned the tables on the idolatry around Him. (Matthew 21:12-13) People thought He was crazy. But He was determined to make sure God received true worship. So, He did whatever it took.

EXTRAVAGANT WORSHIP WINS THE DAILY BATTLE FOR OUR HEART’S ATTENTION, PULLING US AWAY FROM FULFILLING WORLDLY DESIRES BY FIXING OUR EYES AND AFFECTIONS ON JESUS.

It is difficult to truly declare our love and allegiance to God and also harbor a present appetite for sin in the same moment. Apathetic worship does not secure the victory for our heart’s affections, only extravagant worship does. It is not “going too far,” but it is necessary for us if we are to overcome the world in this life because it strengthens our faith and fixes our focus.

GIVEN THE DAILY ASSAULT ON OUR HEARTS, WORSHIPING GOD WITH ABANDON IS NECESSARY TACTIC FOR VICTORY.  (I John 5:1-5)

We say the word “Hallelujah!” so often, but do you know where that word comes from? It is from the Hebrew word, “hallal” which means “to rave, to praise, to be clamorously foolish.” Today is a day to worship wildly with dancing, shouting and singing! God calls us to this kind of praise that is so extravagant that if others see or hear you, they will likely not understand. Maybe you’ll feel like a crazy person. If so, you’re in good company! People called Jesus a madman. David danced and shouted wildly before the ark of the covenant because the ark was the place God stayed, and he was completely obsessed with God’s presence.

IN RESPONSE

Today, read Psalm 100, then turn on some loud worship music and worship Jesus with all that is within you! God is inviting you to sing at the top of your voice, dance before Him in your room, laugh as you call to mind His goodness and favor in your life. This is not a desperate plea for attention – you can worship extravagantly in the privacy of your room. But know that your Father sees and hears, and He is as pleased with your offering as a father is with the dance of his child – and even more so. Jesus didn’t hold back. David didn’t hold back. Let’s join them by making sure our energy and passion go straight to God. Let’s worship Jesus extravagantly today!

MUSIC:

If you need ideas for worship music to play all day, see my first post here.
By James Mark Gulley, Worship Pastor

7 Days of Extravagant Worship: Palm Sunday

THE KING IS HERE!

They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” – John 12:13

“Worship is a verb, defined as ‘regard with great or extravagant respect, honor or devotion.’ It is an active expression of our love toward God.” – Darlene Zschech

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the crowds exuberantly celebrated His arrival in the traditional welcoming of a conquering King, shouting, “Hosanna!” In the face of immense political pressure, they were freely proclaiming that Jesus was indeed the Messiah – the promised Savior and King – and so their natural response was to sing, shout, dance and lay down palm branches, a Jewish symbol of triumph and victory. They did not merely sit and think about this truth – they jumped up, crowded around Him and worshiped extravagantly!

EXTRAVAGANT WORSHIP IS REAL WORSHIP.

It is “true worship” as Jesus describes in John 4:23-24. It is the kind of worship the Father wants because it pervades all of our lives and comes from a heart that recognizes that we are in need and only God is the eternal fulfillment of our hearts.

You have been rescued forever from an enemy you cannot overcome alone.

YOU HAVE BEEN WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS INTO THE FAMILY OF GOD, ALL BECAUSE OUR CHAMPION WON THE WAR!

Today we celebrate that our victorious King Jesus has come to save us! It is cause for shouting and singing, lavishly pouring our praise on Jesus. When we worship God, we open our mouths to speak and sing to Him with words of thankfulness and adoration.

To be sure, God invites us to worship Him sincerely with our minds, but did you know that worship is not primarily a cerebral pursuit? In the Hebrew language there are seven words that are translated by our one English word “praise,” and they are all action-oriented, describing expressions of our voices and bodies that demonstrate the declaration of our hearts. True worship is our hearts in action and today’s word is “shabach” which means to loudly give adoration to God – to shout joyful praise!

In Psalm 145:3-4, David wrote, “Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise [SHABACH] Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”

Over and over we are led in Scripture to shout. Psalm 5:11 says, “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.”

IN RESPONSE

So let’s take our place in the crowd in Jerusalem and welcome Jesus with loud exclamations of praise and worship today! Find a place to raise your voice. Turn on some loud worship music and declare the truth that Jesus is King and that He is here! Then tell God how thankful you are to Him – out loud!

As a church we are taking this Easter week – this Holy Week – to give ourselves to continuous extravagant worship that ministers to God’s heart. We want to fill our hearts and homes with Jesus’ worship. Everywhere we go, whether at work, in the car or on the street, we want to actively worship God with extravagance. I’ll be sharing a devotional each day this week to help us stay connected as we travel this experience together. I’ll include some Scriptures and some worship songs to lead us, which you’ll find below. In this post, you’ll also find some resources for filling your days this week with worship.

SONGS:

ALBUMS FOR THE WEEK:

MUSIC SOURCES:

  • Apple Music – After securing an Apple ID, you can pay monthly to stream almost all worship albums and create your own playlists. You can start with a free 3-month trial!
  • Spotify – At $10/month, this customizable music streaming service is a favorite for many. You can start with a free 30-day trial which will more than take care of the 7 days of extravagant worship!
  • Antioch Spotify Channel – Check out our Spotify channel for worship playlists and suggestions.

By James Mark Gulley – Worship Pastor